*Please note that the protocol presented here only applies to an employee who had truly added value to your practice, and other than not being a fit for the culture due to not agreeing with the changes that needed to be made would still be employed there. This would not be applicable should the employee be a truly detrimental “Bad Apple”; the approach to which I will address in future posts.
Although it’s clearly uncomfortable for both the employer and the employee, for the health of the practice it’s essential that one of them “make the move”. Addressing the “elephant in the living room” and to cleanly make their separation is the ONLY way to relieve the pressure that has been building. It’s likely that both are equally traumatized by what ultimately has to happen.
What could make the process easy on the employer is for them to understand that they are not necessarily sending this once valuable employee out in the cold. Although they are not conforming to the practice style that you have created, they might still be very well suited for a different practice culture. Sitting with them and having a frank discussion on this subject will begin to make the end result a little easier for both to handle. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this employee couldn’t be a qualified, valuable team member for another practice–perhaps one that supports a program that aligns more comfortably with their way of working and thinking. Just because you part ways doesn’t mean that either of you were wrong, or that the employee isn’t “hirable” by another practice. It’s just that for your particular environment, the fit wasn’t right.
Although giving references today is a slippery slope, it doesn’t mean that the outgoing dentist can’t support this team member by letting the new prospective employer know about all the good the employee brought to the practice. In spite of the differences in how they viewed the practice philosophy the employee was still on time, was honest and trustworthy, knew the job well, and up until recently the patients and team members really enjoyed having them around.
There is nothing objectionable about sharing information based on the employee giving their full “written” consent and approval to share it. After all, they do have some wonderful qualities but now their way of seeing things going in the same direction are no longer moving together in unison and current goals are no longer aligned between the team member and the doctor. Granted, this in itself could be cause for the potential new employer to say “thanks, but no thanks” because, regardless of the reason, he/she may still feel that this is not a candidate they would consider. That said, there could still very well be a dentist who is totally comfortable with what this candidate brings to their open position and how their practice operates.
The point is that it is not in the best interest of the employer or employee to continue to try and maintain an ongoing business relationship when every effort has been made to recover what has been lost, and yet it is clear that they are both fighting a losing battle. The current team will also respect the decision the dentist has made as the Practice Leader and how diplomatically he/she went about resolving the problem.
This approach will not only help the employer realize they have done their best and are continuing to support this long-term employee as best they can, but also the employee can appreciate the efforts being made by their present employer and should respect them for taking the high road. This solution will ultimately keep everyone content, including the present team which is no doubt feeling the stress along with the patients, and which may not realize exactly what the problem is, but can feel something uncomfortable in the air.
If and when the employee leaves, everyone understands that the explanation is simple: “He/she was a good employee and we will miss him/her, but it was time for us to part “friends”. I often wonder why in these situations it is so common for doctors and team members to give a long and lengthy explanation when clearly details are not required. Less is more.
Now watch as the cloud starts to lift and the environment suddenly softens and the pleasant, welcoming atmosphere returns once again.
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